The 16-Hour Adventuring Day: Theorycrafting a Tireless Party


Advice


What party would you build if you were trying to maximize the number of encounters the party could face in each day of gametime? Say for example that you wanted to clear the Emerald Spire Superdungeon in less than a week, and you can bring a party of 5.

Maybe something like:
1) Big Stupid Fighter
2) Gunslinger
3) Archery Ranger (gotta have someone who can use the CLW wand)
4) Kineticist
5) Unchained Rogue or Swashbuckler with UMD ranks

This is kind of inspired by that common experience of looking back over a campaign and being like "We've been playing for 6 months and only a week of time has elapsed!" So I am wondering about how far we could push that. In the extreme, you would level up from 1-20 in a single day. That seems unrealistic, but if you were trying to do it, how would you go about it?


The bladebound kensai I play is built for endurance.

Very little in the way of nova spells and none of his arcana require Arcane Pool expenditure (or swift actions).

What he does have is long duration buffs, consistent high damage, and all around good saves and AC. He is also the party trapper and scout. UMD ranks are there, but could be better.

The problem with the gunslinger and archer is limited ammo. Odds are you are only carrying just so much.

My pick:

1. Fighter: nobachi/shield brace
2. Bladebound kensai: traps/scouting/arcane
3. Oracle of Battle: covers divine when not fighting
4. Kineticist: ranged combatant
5. Empiricist Investigator: skills/traps, may be ranged.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So I think one of the biggest questions is how you're handling trips back to town, because characters will need to sell loot, resupply, and upgrade their gear at regular intervals. This is especially problematic for the gunslinger, who requires a constant supply of black powder to function. You'd also be screwed pretty hard if you got hit by a nasty status effect that requires a caster level check to remove; you need a proper caster to remove those, and curses especially can be crippling until they're dealt with. While I do think casters would be a liability to this playstyle at low levels, they may well be worth "tagging along" for the benefits they bring to the party at higher levels. In that respect I think the best approach is a three-pronged one: spearhead characters with builds and classes designed to absolutely dominate at low levels, late-bloomers designed to carry towards the end of the campaign, and a solid backbone that remain consistently strong all the way through.

One thing I would say is that spellcasting isn't necessarily a bad thing. While you have to completely change your mindset for games like these, since those resources need to be expended in a very measured and calculated way, but when used to get through difficult boss encounters or to circumvent great challenges they can be monumentally important. With all that said, spellcasters are definitely something that will be a net drag at lower levels, but you do it for the gamechanging advantage they bring at higher levels.

So here's my thoughts:

#1) Summoner: This guy gets so many daily resources. If you want a caster that doesn't really care about his limited spell slots at low levels, look no further than the Summoner. To start with, you're a 3/4 BAB SAD character so it's easy to put some good physical stats and a weapon on this guy for front-line support, and you have the mother of all pets to go with that. Spellcasting will need to be carefully rationed throughout the long adventuring days, but will still be useful for powering through boss battles. And if your eidolon gets knocked out, you still have 3+cha (likely at least 5) castings of summon monster with extended duration, enough to squeak through at least a couple more encounters. Oh, and he's charisma-based with UMD as a class skill, so he can also be a wand monkey. As far as low levels are concerned, the summoner is a powerhouse with unmatched daily resources.

Now, the summoner's niche is primarily at low levels. The class does have some weak spots and they become more acute as you gain in levels. At a high level of optimization (which I think is presumed here) he's going to be a falling star at higher levels, with martials completely outclassing his eidolon and the real 9-level casters reminding him that he's only a pretender to that niche. While he's never going to be bad, the summoner is here for his low level performance.

#2) Fighter: Ever since weapon master's handbook has been a thing, the Fighter has been one of the most powerful classes in the game. Not powerful in the sense of "does everything and anything" like a high-level wizard, but powerful in terms of "holy cow those are big numbers!" The Fighter is an absolute DPR machine, but what sets him aside from the other DPR machines is that he does it without sacrificing any defenses. Armed Bravery gives the fighter superstition barbarian level will saves without the downsides, while Armor Training lets you use heavier armor than would otherwise be possible at your current dexterity level, allowing for superior AC. But the fighter has another subtle trick up his sleeve that makes him extremely well suited to this campaign in particular: free retraining of combat feats. It's only once every four levels, but this lets you take short-term feats without having to worry about being stuck with them, or to retrain into a feat chain without having to be stuck with a dead feat for several levels. So yes, fighter is a no-brainer for the backbone of the team.

#3) Fighter: I'm not joking, fighters are fricken amazing. Bring a spare with a different build to complement the first guy.

#4) Cleric: Of all the 9-level casters, the cleric has perhaps the least troubles at lower levels. He's 3/4 BAB with good proficiencies and two strong saves and some potentially useful powers from his two domains. This guy isn't a fighter, but he'll have no problem holding the line beside a fighter. Perhaps most importantly, the Cleric is capable of curing obscure effects that might otherwise require a trip back to town. This will be crucial when hitting higher levels where a nasty curse, poison, or disease might otherwise force an end to the adventuring day. The Cleric is a late-bloomer, but he's the ideal pick for his superior contributions at low levels. The Cleric also brings animate dead to the party starting at 5th level, and bloody skeletons would be game-changers.

#5) Fighter/Wizard/Eldritch Knight: Now my bias may be showing through for my love of the EK, but the logic is quite similar to the cleric. You start your career as a fighter at 1st level for optimal combat contributions, then begin taking levels as a wizard with the hope of riding out the valley of suck. I think the ideal approach would be either an archer or using the elven branched spear with elven battle focus; both have their pros and cons. This also has the upside of being intelligence-based to handle skills, something that the party overall is lacking in.

This party is a bit light on skills, but between them should be able to cover enough of them. Casting-wise the party has lots of potential wand users, all of which have strong at-will contributions they can make to stay relevant while conserving the big guns, and the fighter/fighter tag team will be an absolutely brutal backbone that should rip through most encounters easily.


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A kineticist may seem like an all-day character, but that's only for the kinetic blast. Just about anything interesting costs burn which is a very limited resource; more so than spell slots.

Also without any ability to up your game when you fight something dangerous you're going to take more hits assuming you win, including whatever nasty effects the big bad can apply. Negative levels, poison/ability damage and curses (and maybe blindness) will hang around if you don't have spells to deal with them.

Here's my theoretical five:

Tank fighter. Stand still so they can actually block a corridor, great AC, OK damage.

Reach fighter: OK AC, great damage, maybe a dash of control via tripping.

Witch with the healing patron: some battlefield control, condition cures, hexes are forever.

Slayer archer: someone's got to have trapfinding & some skills, and while not comparable with archers using expendable resources they're decent.

Druid: wild shape is long term utility (not everything is combat!), they're the one who can get the witch back on her feet if she accidentally goes down, they're the third best melee when one's needed, and they can do a little blasting, or even buffing with the right domain.


Get every one a ring of restoration and you can have a 22 hour adventuring day.

Sovereign Court

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Ki Channel on the healer (like Cleric/Shaman with a Ki pool from Ninja 2 w/Vanishing Trick or Shigenjo Oracle at 7), a boat load of Tea of Transference, and a party optimized to spend Ki as fast as they can.
Once you get to higher levels (and presumably higher wealth), start spending the Tea for recharging spells as well. I have a (Witch Doctor) Shaman (Life/Lore) in PFS going this route that just got to the point of Haste all day every day at 11. Needless to say, Channels all day as well starting at 5 for me.


Firebug wrote:

Ki Channel on the healer (like Cleric/Shaman with a Ki pool from Ninja 2 w/Vanishing Trick or Shigenjo Oracle at 7), a boat load of Tea of Transference, and a party optimized to spend Ki as fast as they can.

Once you get to higher levels (and presumably higher wealth), start spending the Tea for recharging spells as well. I have a (Witch Doctor) Shaman (Life/Lore) in PFS going this route that just got to the point of Haste all day every day at 11. Needless to say, Channels all day as well starting at 5 for me.

Wish that feat was revered, spend ki to channel either positive or negative energy.


avr wrote:

Here's my theoretical five:

Tank fighter. Stand still so they can actually block a corridor, great AC, OK damage.

Reach fighter: OK AC, great damage, maybe a dash of control via tripping.

Witch with the healing patron: some battlefield control, condition cures, hexes are forever.

Slayer archer: someone's got to have trapfinding & some skills, and while not comparable with archers using expendable resources they're decent.

Druid: wild shape is long term utility (not everything is combat!), they're the one who can get the witch back on her feet if she accidentally goes down, they're the third best melee when one's needed, and they can do a little blasting, or even buffing with the right domain.

Replace the Tank Fighter with a Paladin. Smite/Spells/Lay-On-Hands are X/day abilities, but their saves aren't. Failing a save costs resources and Paladins are the best at not failing saves. Divine Grace, Divine Health and Aura of Courage all come in the first 3 levels (along with +3 Will Save compared to a Fighter). Even just a dip would almost certainly be worth it if you're playing a tank role.

Sovereign Court

Dip that Paladin into Ninja for all day "Smite/Spells/Lay-On-Hands"!

I may have a (tea) drinking problem.


I'm gonna concur on bringing a Fighter and a Paladin. In Emerald Spire you'll find a lot of evil creatures anyway, and moreover the Lay on Hands will be useful as an emergency resource. And if you survive long enough to get Aura of Justice? Well, that's a freaking amazing ability that will make everyone murder better.

The Ki Channel shenanigans also just sound perfect for this group.

One important thing to consider with a 16 hour adventuring day group is that you'll find that ambushes CAN happen at night, so be sure to bring all the necessary tools to booby trap the paths your enemies will likely take to get to your campsite. My party actually got ambushed while resting by something like 3 Driders at level 5, and that was pretty... interesting.

(We won, though don't ask me how.)

For booby traps, I'd recommend that for the early levels you bring marbles, caltrops, string, bells, and a broomstick to sweep all that crap up. A mixture of caltrops and marbles will hinder a lot of early game enemy movement, and string + bells over a door is a poor man's alarm. You can get more advanced as you get higher level and eventually get rid of that stuff, but it's useful at level 1 when you're camping and 100% need to make it hard for something to approach you.

And if you plan on sleeping in armor, you'll want a way to remove fatigue available.


TheVillageIdiot wrote:

I'm gonna concur on bringing a Fighter and a Paladin. In Emerald Spire you'll find a lot of evil creatures anyway, and moreover the Lay on Hands will be useful as an emergency resource. And if you survive long enough to get Aura of Justice? Well, that's a freaking amazing ability that will make everyone murder better.

I think the idea of the thread is to not be relying on X/day abilities. Yes Smite is amazing, so is Lay on Hands (Lay on Hands may even let you adventure for longer) but the idea is that your party isn't relying on these things.

My post above was trying to say that Paladins make amazing tanks even after their X/day abilities are gone. If you don't care about the X/day abilities or the later auras (Resolve/Faith/Righteousness) you still get a huge boost to all your saves, as well as immunity to disease and fear for just a 3 level dip. For a Tank Character that's pretty huge.


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A Drunken Sensei Monk can keep you going for as long as there's booze.


To me, it all comes down to hit points. The more you have, the better you can evenly distribute damage between party members, and how effective you can make one channel energy in healing that damage, all of that will go a long way to extending your adventuring day.

To this end, three things become important: life link, shield other, and channel energy. Get as much of these three things as you can in the party. My chosen party set up would look like this:

1) Paladin (Hospitaler) - Standard reasons for this, Melee, self-healing, etc.

2) Druid (Nature Fang: Crocodile Domain [Protector]) - Traps (trapfinding through slayer talents), flanking assistant, sneak attacks, Studied target. Fairly solid build, with a massive hp pool thanks to share damage with familiar.

3) Shaman (Witchdoctor: Nature/Waves [Protector]) - Nature is optional and you can go Life/Waves for doubling up on channels, I just like the storm cloud ability and how well it combines with the Protective Luck (Witch) Hex. This will be a fairly support focused character. Using only Hexes and the occasional spell (like produce flame/Pale Flame) to knock down enemies at range (touch attacks)

4) Oracle (Pei Zin Practioner: Life) - This is the wild card of the group, spec any way you want. I'd actually spec them for range and have them stick by the Arcanist. Since we plan on splitting damage between party members, a quick "lay on hands" would be highly useful if the Arcanist gets woozy.

5) Arcanist (Blood Arcanist) 9 / Cleric 1 / Mystic Theurge 10 (or Evangelist if DM allows it to work with Mystic Theurge) - You can go all Arcanist but that's boring to me. Use whatever early entry shenanigans you can, guild abilities, and wizard exploits as needed. This character will be the one for disposable utility spells for low level things. Pick up a familiar, get Protector, use your spell slots for things like Imbue with Spell Ability (Spell Contract if you worship Asmodeus) to give others additional spells to use each day

5) ALTERNATE: Witch (Havockerj 19 / Wizard (Spellslinger) - Ranged Combat with touch attack kinetic blast, Conductive weapon a bit later. Reach Spell Metamagic for some of the more fun Witch spells.

The goal is to use as little actual spell slots as necessary in the small fights. For some of the more difficult fights, buff the hell out of your melee fighters. I recommend Everyone take Bonded Mind everyone with a familiar/ animal Companion take Share Spells so that they can cast some of the best "You" only spells on their allies.


In my experience, witch and alchemist work well to expand the day's length. A witch's hexes means they can always contribute, regardless of the number of spells they have. My experience of my goblin alchemist means that he can contribute as a scout, can use infusions to buff the party, and can use bombs when necessary. The key was to not make damage dealing through bombs the focus of the character.

Sovereign Court

TheVillageIdiot wrote:
For booby traps, I'd recommend that for the early levels you bring marbles, caltrops, string, bells, and a broomstick to sweep all that crap up. A mixture of caltrops and marbles will hinder a lot of early game enemy movement, and string + bells over a door is a poor man's alarm. You can get more advanced as you get higher level and eventually get rid of that stuff, but it's useful at level 1 when you're camping and 100% need to make it hard for something to approach you.

Don't forget the bear traps. 2 gp, +10 vs AC for 2d6+3 damage.

Silver Crusade

Telekineticists are good for long adventuring days. The regenerating Force Ward can stop a fair amount of damage.


Hmm...ok. First get a lot of characters to take Healer's Hand/Signature Skill unlock to make sure we don't run out of basic healing. Also so we can concentrate spells to removing conditions/overcoming obstacles.

1) Archery Ranger. I like fighters, but need skill points for the Healer's Hand trick.

2) Archery Paladin. More of a hybrid ranged/melee type. Part of the idea is to save a few HP by forcing opponents to close rather than closing with them.

3) Ecclesitheurge Cleric: Provides bard buffs and condition removal. Consider dumping a feat into Gunsmithing and turning this into a ranged plinker to pass the time. Healing should be left to Healer's Hand as much as possible.

4) Drunken Quiggon Monk: body blocker, and around 4th level becomes a blaster. Means packing a lot of alcohol.

5) Utility Wizard: Suggest a high int universalist with a bonded object. Main goal is to conserve spells to use them when overcoming obstacles. Also a general crafter for magic items. Immediate goal would be to get some sort of ability to continue pinking damage. Maybe pick up firearms until you can get something better?

Traps: Brute force your way through until 8th level. Around 8th level get the ranger a headband of intellect with Disable Device to handle traps that you can't just brute force, or force the Wizard to deal with them.

Figure the Healer's Hand trick can be picked up by the Cleric and Monk. Ranger and Paladin are probably starved on feats, but could pick up Healer's Hand later. Wizard is also a great choice since his actions aren't as high priority in this party so he'd have more opportunities to use Healer's Hand in combat if anyone went down.

Wizard is mainly around for teleport at later levels. Also Fabricate will be amazing to cut down on the cost of arrows later. When you can afford to switch the cleric to using Shadowshooting guns and retrain the Gunsmithing feat. Pick up Ring of Wizardry 3 to power Haste, and a Ring of Telekinesis to let the wizard plink all day with the best.

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